All Immigrants Are Not Alike: Intersectionality Matters in Views of Immigrant Groups


  • Özge Savaş
  • Ronni M. Greenwood
  • Benjamin T. Blankenship
  • Abigail J. Stewart
  • Kay Deaux


In two studies, we investigated how intersecting social categories shape views of immigrants in the United States. In Study 1, we analyzed 310 attributes generated by 92 participants for the category of immigrant and 30 additional immigrant groups with intersecting social categories (e.g. “undocumented immigrant”) reflecting various levels of social status. Using the Meaning Extraction Method (MEM) and factor analysis to examine shared meanings, we identified five factors; further comparative analyses of immigrant groups focused on the first two factors (Vulnerable vs. Hardworking, Drain vs. Asset). The importance of legal status for judgments on these two factors was evident in comparisons of the generic immigrant with four specific legal intersections. An examination of all 31 groups of immigrants showed that higher status groups were perceived as Hardworking (less Vulnerable) and high national Assets (low Drain), while lower status groups varied in Vulnerability perceptions but were generally thought to be Drains on the nation rather than Assets. In Study 2, 270 participants evaluated intersectional immigrant social categories that differed in combinations of higher status (privileged) and lower status (marginalized) social group memberships, using scales based on the terms identified by the factors in Study 1. Participants rated immigrant groups with two privileged statuses as less vulnerable and more likely to be an asset to the nation than immigrant groups with two marginalized or mixed statuses. The utility of a bottom-up intersectional approach to assess stereotype content of immigrant groups is discussed.